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You’ve already pushed your CPU to the edge and taken your RAM to its outer limits.Now it’s time to put the screws to your videocard.
Every company that sells videocards based on an AMD or Nvidia GPU starts out on fairly equal footing: When building their products, all companies follow the same reference designs and clock-speed guidance that AMD and Nvidia provide.
One of the oldest and easiest ways for these vendors to differentiate their products from the competition is to drop a free game in the box. Another popular tactic is to offer a more generous (or more fault-tolerant) warranty. But the sexiest way to stand out from the crowd is to overclock the card’s GPU and memory. AMD and Nvidia both frequently sandbag their reference designs, leaving headroom for third-party manufacturers to goose the components’ clocks, which can easily wring more performance from a stock card.
Many board manufacturers offer the same GPU and memory configuration in more than one SKU, tacking a premium to the price tag of cards that feature higher clock speeds. But consumers can play the overclocking game, too—without having to pay a penny in premiums. We’ll show you how to use a free utility to easily squeeze more frames per second out of just about any videocard on the market.
But keep these facts in mind: Not every GPU is overclockable to the same degree. AMD and Nvidia intentionally segregate parts that exhibit a propensity for overclocking and then sell these for a higher price than less-pedigreed cards. As you push your GPU to the edge, variables ranging from the quality of your power supply to the build quality of your motherboard and the ambient temperature of your environment also come into play. Refer to the benchmark charts in this article to see how far we were able to push our cards but know that your mileage may vary.
Using the free utility RivaTuner, you can push the speed of any AMD or Nvidia videocard that’s not currently running at its full potential
We chose RivaTuner over the overclocking utilities that AMD and Nvidia provide for one simple reason: This free third-party program offers far greater user control. The ability to permanently set a card’s fan speed, the flexibility to play with the GPU’s core clock (either separate from or in sync with its stream processors), and the capacity to create overclocking profiles for various computing scenarios are just a few of the ways RivaTuner stands out from other utilities.
To get started with your overclocking adventures, download RivaTuner (version 2.06) from www.guru3d.com. Click Yes to install available updates and accept the program’s configuration defaults. RivaTuner will create a registry database, which might take a few minutes. Read the excellent readme file while you wait, especially the FAQ.
Now you’re ready to begin. The steps for overclocking an AMD GPU are slightly different than they are for overdriving an Nvidia GPU, so proceed to the appropriate section for further instructions.